Grey Lake with Icebergs
Grey Glacier is one of the chief attractions of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia Chile. At one end is the Patagonian Ice Field and at the other a 40-metre wall of ice, which smashes ice blocks into Grey Lake below. And with them, glacial rock flour, which gives Grey Lake its milky blue color.
The Glacier covers a total area of 270 square kilometers and it's 28km long. Like all Torres del Paine's glaciers, it is retreating.
What to do
Both independent and organized activities are possible. Here's a selection:
Both the Torres del Paine Circuit and the W trek pass Grey Mirador, from where you can see the Glacier face. The best land-based views though are from the John Gardner Pass, which is on the Circuit Trek Circuit Trek. From there, you can also see across to the Patagonian Ice Field.
Getting Up Close
If you want to get really close, Grey II sails from Hosteria Lago Grey right up to the Glacier face. The round trip takes about three hours and costs (CL$55,000).
If that's not close enough, you can actually hike on the glacier. Big Foot (www.bigfootpatagonia.com), a local operator based in Puerto Natales, will take you out onto the ice from Nunatek Island in Grey Lake. Trips leave from Grey Refugio at 8.30am and 2.30pm (CL$90,000). The five-hour excursion includes about two hours on the ice.
Big Foot also runs 2.5 hour kayaking trips to the glacier face (CL$55,000) leaving at: 9am, 1pm and 5pm.
Where to Stay
Lakeshore accommodation comes in two forms: Refugio Grey and Hosteria Lago Grey.
Grey Refugio has the closest accommodation to the face of the Glacier (apart from camping). In fact, it's right next to a beach, from where campers can watch icebergs float by. Basic shared rooms are from $34 full board, and camping is $22 full board. You can also hire tents, sleeping bags and mats here.
The refugio can only be reached by trekking - the nearest road is at Hosteria Lago Grey - see below.
Hosteria Lago Grey
Further away from the Grey Glacier, but with great views of the iceberg-loaded Grey Lake, Hosteria Grey is a good choice if you don't want to hike, as it can be reached by road. It has 30 rooms, singles, doubles and triples, all ensuite, a restaurant, a bar and an outdoor deck. There's also internet access.
As well as boat trips to the face of the glacier, The Hosteria is set up for guided treks and other activities.